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Breastfeeding Supplies to Buy (and Not Buy) Before Baby Comes

Getting ready for your baby’s arrival can sometimes feel like a full-time job, except that instead of getting paid for your work you’re just tossing your wallet at every company that sells anything chemical-free, all-natural, and organic.

This pressure to buy anything and everything an infant could possibly need stems from a very real and admirable yearning to give your baby the best life possible. You’re supposed to feel that way.

But it also comes from unrealistic standards set by social media influencers and aggressive retail marketing campaigns. Nearly 60% of soon-to-be parents have more than one baby registry, and registries on leading online baby commerce destination Babylist have an average of 121 items each.

That’s a lot of gear for someone who hasn’t even shown up yet.

While there are some products you really do need, the truth is that the list of must-haves is much smaller than 121 items. 

This is especially true when it comes to feeding your newborn. Babies can sleep in a lot of different places, and they can wear an endless variety of clothes, but there aren’t very many ways they can eat. 

That doesn’t mean that there isn’t an endless variety of feeding supplies and accessories on the market. The experts at Nest Collaborative have put together a list of items for your baby that are (in descending order of importance):

  1. Nice to have
  2. Handy
  3. Not-so-important

Nice to have breastfeeding supplies

There’s only so much you can do to prepare for breastfeeding—it’s the kind of thing that’s best understood through doing—but having a variety of supplies on hand will help you manage any challenges that may arise during the learning curve. 

Some things that often help successful breastfeeding include:

  • Nursing pillow: Nursing pillows can be a huge help for some parents. Many love them, but many parents also find they don’t increase comfort for them so they don’t end up getting much use except as a backrest. There are a wide variety of nursing pillows on the market, and if possible, we’d recommend trying a few to see what’s comfortable for you. You may even find a pillow from your couch or bed works well enough. But some type of support pillow often makes breastfeeding more comfortable for you and your baby.

  • Nursing bras: It can be handy to have 1-2 nursing bras ready to go when your baby is born, but your breast size will change over the first week or two postpartum. Moreover, any bra you wear mustn’t put pressure on your breasts. Many new parents find it most comfy just to skip the bra entirely at first. After your baby has arrived and you have a better sense of your size, it’s easier to get bras that fit you well and are comfortable.

Rather than the same kind, try out a couple of different styles to make sure you find the type that’s most comfortable and easy to use for you (no one wants a drawer full of bad bras staring at them every morning). Once you find it, you can buy one for every day of the week.

  • Nursing pads: Not everyone leaks lots of milk, but for those who do, it’s usually happening a lot in the early days and decreases over time.Whether it’s a crying baby that isn’t yours, or just a too-long break between feedings, feeling that let-down tingle when you aren’t ready for it is sure to induce instant panic.

Look for breast pads that don’t have plastic backings since you want plenty of airflow to your nipples. Whether you choose disposable or reusable pads, always have a stash of emergency nursing pads. (Next to your stash of emergency diapers, of course)

  • Nipple cream: You may not need it forever, but a high-quality nipple cream is helpful to have the first few weeks of breastfeeding just in case you have any nipple soreness while your baby is learning to latch deeply. And here’s a hot tip for you: for a lot of babies, lanolin-based nipple cream works better on diaper rash than actual diaper rash ointment. And it’s great on chapped hands and cheeks as well.

  • Breast pump: A breast pump isn’t technically necessary for successful breastfeeding. But there’s no question that it makes everything from boosting your supply to sustaining breastfeeding when you return to work easier—that’s why the Affordable Care Act requires that insurance plans cover the purchase or rental of a breast pump. Pumps do take some practice to use effectively so don’t worry if you only get a little milk when you first begin pumping.


Handy supplies for breastfeeding

Humans technically need 1,200 calories a day to survive (more if you’re breastfeeding). But surviving isn’t the same as thriving. While not technically necessary for breastfeeding, the following supplies make the job easier.

  • Bottles: By necessity or by choice, not every parent nurses at the breast exclusively. If you’re in this category, you’re going to need bottles. As with many of the things on this list, don’t drop a big wad of cash on an extensive collection of one kind of bottle and nipple system. Instead, buy several different types and see which one your baby likes best. 

  • Burp cloths: A point of clarification—burp cloths are absolutely necessary when you have a newborn. But almost anything from a clean dish towel to old t-shirts can (and likely will) wipe up baby vomit. If you can buy cute, fancy burp cloths, go for it. But if you need to save money for other items, this is one place you can do it.

  • Insulated bag: Expressed milk and prepared bottles should be kept cool to prevent bacteria growth, even though breastmilk’s antibacterial properties keep it better than most foods. Insulated bags, whether specifically for bottles or not, are widely available and affordable, but a Ziploc bag of ice works in a pinch as well.

  • Nursing cover: Blankets, jackets, and burp cloths can all work as a breastfeeding cover, but covers specifically designed for breastfeeding can be easier to use and clean, and often they are designed so you can look down and see your baby, making latching easier.

Not-so-important breastfeeding supplies

Let’s be honest—half of the fun of getting ready for your baby’s arrival is buying the cool, cute things you don’t really need. Whether it’s newborn shoes (trust us—they will never stay on) or fancy wipe warmers, there are some things you’ll end up buying just because you can.

That’s totally fine. Don’t feel guilty about splurges and “silly” purchases that bring you joy if your budget allows for it. On the other side of that coin, you should never feel guilty if you need to spend your money on more important things.

When it comes to breastfeeding, here are a few things you can wait to buy with a clear conscience:

  • Lactation treats: It’s true that there are some teas and herbs that can support a healthy milk supply, but nursing and/or pumping often enough is really the key to making enough milk. So don’t spend money on products that haven’t been tested and recommended by a lactation consultant.

  • Nipple shields: Nipple shields can be game-changers for some breastfeeding parents with inverted nipples or latching issues, but again, don’t buy them before consulting with a qualified lactation specialist.

Protect your resources

The nesting phases of pregnancy can be all-consuming, and it’s normal for parents-to-be to spend too much money, time, and emotional energy trying to prepare for every possible circumstance. As an expectant parent, all of your resources are incredibly valuable. Trust us, you don’t want to enter the newborn phase with a depleted bank.

Remember, Target and Amazon will not disappear the moment your child is born. Instead of buying every single thing recommended by neighbors, family, and websites, buy a few basics, take a deep breath, and enjoy the miraculous experience you’re living.

Your journey, our support

At Nest Collaborative, we help all families feel confident and successful in their breastfeeding journey. Whatever your goals, we’re here to help you meet them. Book a convenient online video appointment with one of our IBCLCs today.

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